Add a burst of color to a window or porch with a cascading mound of ivy geraniums. Ivy geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum), also referred to as trailing geraniums, are typically grown in window boxes or hanging baskets, although they can also be used as ground cover. The plants have trailing leaves that may grow several feet long and are evocative of trailing ivy. Like common or zonal geraniums, ivy geraniums may have red, white, burgundy or pink blooms. Over 75 commercial cultivars of ivy geraniums exist, such as "Summer Showers," "Salmon Queen," "Amethyst," "Beauty of Eastbourne" and "Balcon." Ivy geraniums originated in the Cape Province of South Africa and spread to Europe in the 1700s. Ivy geraniums are less common than zonal geraniums, but they aren't difficult to grow.
Climate and Location
Ivy geraniums grow best in well-drained soil in moderate temperatures. If your area has temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, install ivy geraniums in locations that receive full sun. If your area is warmer than 85 degrees, install ivy geraniums in locations that receive partial sun. If ivy geraniums receive too much light and heat, they may develop smaller leaves and blooms. However, some ivy geranium cultivars may prefer more or less light.
Make sure ivy geraniums are spaced so that each plant receives air circulation. Plants that do not receive adequate air circulation are at risk for bacterial or fungal diseases. Some cultivars of ivy geraniums, such as Balcon varieties, do not require pruning or "deadheading." Other varieties should be pruned once the blooms are spent.
Ivy geraniums are usually propagated by rooted cuttings, although some cultivars are grown from seed. If you purchase cuttings, make sure they don't contain pests such as red spider mites, thrips and mealybugs. Selecting pest-free ivy geraniums is the best strategy for preventing pest issues; most ivy geraniums do not have pest problems.
Watering and Diseases
Ivy geraniums require moderate and consistent soil moisture. Water ivy geraniums regularly and monitor the plants for signs of disease. Water early in the day to avoid bacterial and fungal infections, and water the soil, not the leaves of the plant. Water less frequently in humid, cloudy or cool conditions. In addition, add a soluble plant fertilizer approximately every two weeks, according to label instructions. If your soil is not well-drained or nutrient-rich, consider adding soil amendments to improve its consistency and quality. Pull any weeds that grow near your ivy geraniums.
Ivy geraniums that receive inconsistent levels of water may develop edema, a physiological disorder characterized by blistered, corky spots on the undersides of leaves. Edema may also occur in ivy geraniums growing in soil that has inadequate levels of nitrogen or iron. Ivy geraniums also sometimes develop bacterial blight, a bacterial disease that may cause spots, darkened veins, rotting and wilting, or leaf rust, a fungal disease that causes yellow spots and rust-colored pustules. Remove any diseased ivy geraniums immediately to prevent the spread of disease. In addition, wash your hands before and after handling ivy geraniums and don't touch the plant more than is necessary.